Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Beckett à la folie

When I was still young and unaware of all the trials and tribulations the world would throw at me, the one part of the month I was really looking forward to was the day I’d receive my copy of the new Beckett magazine. Well, new to me anyway, since they didn’t seem to believe in airmail for international subscribers , and I’d receive it at least a month after everyone else. Not that it really mattered, it’s not as if an American would come knocking on my door with his Beckett under the arm just to brag about it. Subscription was 30$ + 12$ for international (that would be me). Each issue cost 3.5$ for 130 pages, including 80 pages for the price guide and shows listing.
Beckett magazine was the bible for 1 million card collectors. We’d all wonder who’d make the cover and who’d have a down or an up arrow, actually giving us the impression that those pieces of cardboard were worth something. At the beginning  of the 90s, there’d even be complete checklists for every set. Very convenient to know what cards I was missing.

Here’s what the covers looked like

Just a photo and sometimes a card. Perfect for framing if that’s your thing, or for seeking autographs. Which is exactly what I did in 1993 when I went to see the Indians play the Blue Jays. It’s the back cover, but it was still a real cool experience to wait for the players outside the ballpark. Some were real nice (Carlos Baerga), some wondered if I was into autographs for the money (Sandy Alomar Jr) but decided I looked honest after all for a French guy, and some just passed by without a look in our direction (yes, you guessed it, that would be Albert Belle). I still have that cover, I still love it very much, even though it meant that I had to take it off the magazine. I apologize in advance for the crappy quality of the scan, but it’s still behind the original frame I put it under , and, well, yeah, the glass is a little dirty.

The letters to the editor would always annoy me, as it seemed like anything anyone was interested in was knowing whether they’d found a rare gem and how much it was worth (usually around 2-3$). But it was still, to me, like having a local card shop come right at my door. Granted, a card shop that wouldn’t sell me anything nor let me touch any product, but still, it would be proof that the card collecting world was alive and well overseas (yes, you’re overseas to me).
At some point in 96, they changed the layout. The covers weren’t blank anymore, the magazine cost 3.95$ for 120 pages and smaller printing in the price guide, that now had 6 columns per page. I wonder what the kids portrayed in the Supercollector pages did with their collections…People were rightfully wondering if it was really a good idea for the price of packs to skyrocket like that, they were going all crazy over refractors because of their 240 print runs (for once that there was a print run…), and they carried a 4 digit price tag for the most popular ones (I wonder how much they’re worth today), and they were scratching their heads over the notion of 1/1 cards.

That’s basically where I left off the hobby. I stopped subscribing in 98 and didn’t miss it that much. I picked up a copy during a trip to Seattle in 2001.

Back to 130 pages, 4.99$, 80 page price guide, 7 columns, a whole bunch of sets missing, a graded card price guide, along with minor leagues. I guess this means Bowman won. Just looking at the listings for 2000 and 2001 gave me a headache, so I really didn’t bother looking at it closely. I didn’t understand the hot list, I didn’t understand the letters to the editor, I didn’t understand why there was an advertising for Bowman on the back cover.
When I came back to the hobby this summer, I figured I’d get my hands on the latest Beckett issue. Thank God for the internet, I’d get it in no time.
Let’s see…ok…it is now 9.99$, but at least they offer free shipping. I got it one month later, and by the looks and feel of the envelope, I understood the sudden price change. It’s huge ! 240 pages. 180 just for the price guide. I’m not going to hate on Beckett, that has largely enough detractors , but pfff, it’s just a big book filled with advertising and printed on low grade paper. It’s what I needed because that way I can list sets by year and catch up with what sets stopped when (Fleer, Pinnacle, Ultra,  Stadium Club etc.). They now only list sets starting from 2001, so it’s a good thing I managed to find my 2001 copy at my parents’ place. I started taking notes 6 weeks ago, just listing sets year by year, and so far I stopped at 2004. But I’ll get back to it !
Subscription for international readers is now 100$ (50$ for the shipping charges), so it makes it even easier to live without it. And digital just isn’t for me.

But I still love my back issues. They were my own little window on your world.

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